NCAA Tournament Trends

Updated: 3142 Basketball

The College Basketball regular season is coming to a close over thenext two weeks as we head towards the conference tournaments andthe season finale with the NCAA Tournament.It'll be a few weeks before we know the 68 teams who willparticipate

NCAA Tournament Trends
Michael Calabrese US Content Manager

Experienced sports journalist, College sports expert and broadcaster, hailing from Pennsylvania

The College Basketball regular season is coming to a close over the next two weeks as we head towards the conference tournaments and the season finale with the NCAA Tournament.

It'll be a few weeks before we know the 68 teams who will participate in the end of season tournament but I've gone back over the last fifteen years to look to see if any trends can help us identify the teams we want to look for when choosing our Final Four.

The trends I'll be looking at are whether a team won their conference regular season, their tournament seed, their conference tournament performance, whether they were an automatic or at-large bid and number of wins during the season.

Regular Season Performance

Over the last fifteen seasons, 37 of the 60 Final Four teams (62%) have won their conference's regular season. However, of the 30 teams to make it through to the Championship game, 22 (73%) have finished the regular season as either champions or co-champions of their conference.

Tournament Seed

Each of the four sections has sixteen seeds (two teams are given the same seeding for the play-in game). No team outside the top eight has ever won the tournament and Villanova in 1985 are the only seed as low as eight to win it all.

In the last fifteen years, a number one seed has won on nine occasions and 37% of the Final Four teams have been a number one seed.

80% of the Final Four teams over the last fifteen years have been seeded one to three with Connecticut in 2014 the only team outside the top three seeds winning the tournament when they were seeded seventh.

At least one number one seed has made the Final Four in each of the past fifteen seasons except 2011 whilst 2008 is the only time in that span that the Final Four has been made up of all four number one seeds.

What Conference?

The five major conferences are the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and the SEC. However, it could be argued that the strength of the Big East gives College Basketball a ‘Power Six' rather than the more traditional ‘Power Five' found in College Football.

Looking at the last fifteen years, the major conferences are the ones who have provided the majority of Final Four teams, 87% of them in fact, and like above, only Connecticut in 2014 have won the tournament from outside one of the Big Conferences.

The ACC and Big East have provided the most winners over the last fifteen years with five apiece whilst the Big Ten have provided six runners-up without winning a title.

Automatic or At-Large

The easiest way to qualify for the tournament is to win your conference tournament. This grants you an automatic spot into the big dance. However, with 68 teams and only 32 conferences, there are 36 ‘at-large' spots up for grabs. These are decided by the selection committee who also determine the seedings of each team.

With 53% of the available teams, you would expect there to be slightly more ‘at-large' teams performing better and that's proven to be the case over the last fifteen years with 57% of the teams in the Final Four needing an ‘at-large' spot.

In terms of tournament winners, there is very little difference with eight of the last fifteen winners receiving an ‘at-large' spot whilst seven qualified for the tournament automatically.

Season wins

Over the last fifteen years, 83% of Final Four teams have won at least 24 games during the regular season and conference tournament.

In terms of winning the tournament, fourteen of the last fifteen winners (and the last thirteen) have won at least 26 games.

NCAA Tournament Betting Profile

March 12th is the day that the 68 team bracket will be revealed but from the trends above, I'll be looking for teams that fit the following bill:
  • Won their conference's regular season
  • Seeded inside the top three
  • From one of the Big Six conferences
  • Won at least 26 games

Once the bracket has been revealed I'll be updating this blog to show the identity of the teams that I'll be backing in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

March 12th Update

So the Conference tournaments are now done and dusted and we have our 68 teams to play for the NCAA Tournament. As promised, I've gone through the trends and those teams meeting each trend are listed below.

Won their Conference regular season

Vermont, SMU, Dayton, North Carolina, Florida Gulf Coast, Kansas, Villanova, North Dakota, Winthrop, Purdue, UNC Wilmington, Middle Tennessee, Princeton, North Carolina Central, Wichita State, Mount St Mary's, Arizona, Oregon, Bucknell, Kentucky, East Tennessee State, New Orleans, Texas Southern, Gonzaga

Seeded inside the top three

Villanova, Gonzaga, Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Arizona, Louisville, Kentucky, Baylor, Florida State, Oregon, UCLA,

From one of the Big Six Conferences

North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame, Duke, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami (FL), Wake Forest, Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Villanova, Butler, Creighton, Providence, Marquette, Seton Hall, Xavier, Purdue, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Northwestern, Michigan State, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, USC, Kentucky, Florida, Arkansas, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

Won at least 26 games

Vermont, SMU, Cincinnati, VCU, North Carolina, Duke, Florida Gulf Coast, Kansas, West Virginia, Villanova, Winthrop, UNC Wilmington, Middle Tennessee, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, Bucknell, Kentucky, East Tennessee State, Gonzaga, Saint Mary's, New Mexico State

Teams that meet ZERO trends

UC Davis, Troy, South Dakota State, Nevada, Rhode Island, Iona, Kent State, Northern Kentucky

Teams that meet ONE trend

Mount St Mary's, New Orleans, Kansas State, Wake Forest, North Carolina Central, Providence, USC, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Florida, New Mexico State, South Carolina, Marquette, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, Princeton, Saint Mary's, VCU, North Dakota, Miami (FL), Michigan State, Iowa State, Creighton, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Texas Southern, Arkansas, Seton Hall, Minnesota, Seton Hall, Butler, Cincinnati, Dayton, Wichita State,

Teams that meet TWO trends

Virginia, UNC Wilmington, East Tennessee State, SMU, Baylor, West Virginia, Bucknell, Maryland, Xavier, Florida State, Florida Gulf Coast, Purdue, Vermont, Louisville, Winthrop,

Teams that meet THREE trends

Duke, Gonzaga, UCLA,

Teams that meet FOUR trends

Villanova, Arizona, Kansas, Oregon, North Carolina, Kentucky


So six teams meet all four trends and whilst you don't want to be backing as many as six teams for overall glory, there is at least one team from each region so they can be combined for a series of Final Four multiples.

You need the ‘To Win Regional' market and the teams can be combined as follows

Villanova (East), Arizona (West), Kansas (Midwest), North Carolina (South) @ 51/1

Villanova (East), Arizona (West), Kansas (Midwest), Kentucky (South) @ 80/1

Villanova (East), Arizona (West), Oregon (Midwest), North Carolina (South) @ 72/1

Villanova (East), Arizona (West), Oregon (Midwest), Kentucky (South) @ 113/1

Visit Basketball Forum All my previous blogs can be viewed here To see a wide range of fantastic blogs from the rest of the OLBG bloggers, click hereYou can also follow me on twitter @UTR_83

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